On January 18, 2022 Sauvie Island Coffee Company's founder Brenda Enyart was a guest on Drop Temp Coffee's weekly podcast. If you'd like to hear a little about how we got started you can find it here:
Listen on Spotify, Listen on Apple, Listen on Google
Or read it here:
A little about me...I am a native of the Pacific Northwest, and have resided on Sauvie Island for over 20 years. Prior to roasting coffee, I worked in commercial video production as a camera operator and digital editor.
In the year 2001 I left the corporate world to work on my then husband's farm and help manage its properties. At the time, the farm primarily produced grass seed, silage corn (feed for cattle), wheat and barley. On a much smaller scale we raised Nigerian dwarf goats, Boer goats, chickens, miniature donkeys, and horses.
When my daughter was born in 2004 we scaled the animal side of farming back quite a bit. I sold off most of our goats, donkeys and horses.
In 2006, on a family trip to Long Beach, Washington, we stopped at a local coffee shop called Long Beach Coffee Roasters. Inside the cafe they had a 12Kilo Diedrich Roaster. As I sat there enjoying my very first cup of freshly roasted coffee I got to thinking that this is exactly what the island needed! I wrote down the name of the roaster and looked up the manufacturer when I got home. I called Diedrich Roasters in Sandpoint Idaho, signed up for my first roasting class, and six months later, my roaster was delivered!
For those of you that don't know, Sauvie Island is one of the largest river islands in the country at 33,000 acres, with approximately 1100 year round residents. A majority of the island is a wildlife refuge for birds managed by Oregon's Department of Fish & Wildlife. What’s left is primarily zoned EFU or Exclusive Farm Use. This is why you don't see any restaurants, gas stations or any tourist type of retail outlets here. Sauvie Island boasts multiple U-Pick/Farm stands as well as river beaches, RV camping, and bird watching lookouts. Over 1 million people visit Sauvie Island every year! Tourist season typically starts at the end of May (for strawberry u-pick) and ends on Halloween.
Back in the early 2000’s the closest grocery store was in Scappoose or St. John's, which are about 12 miles either way. Starbucks was new to St John's and Tully's Coffee opened in the Scappoose Fred Meyer. Specialty coffee was really out of the way.
My hope was to share that experience I had of freshly roasted coffee in Long Beach with the locals. I started roasting in a room off our garage and started out selling to family, friends and neighbors. It was a pretty bare bones operation. I had a scale to weigh and fill the coffee bags and stamps with an ink pad to label them. Right before we switched to printed labels, the coffee bags would have 6 different stamps on them; logo, date, origin, company info, weight, grind, etc. It was a tedious process and getting hard on the wrists.
I attended my first Roasters Guild Retreat in 2009 and then again in 2010 at Skamania Lodge in Washington. I have attended multiple Coffee Fest and Specialty Coffee Association trade shows to learn as much as I could about the industry. In late 2015, after years of trying to figure out how I could grow into a retail location, I purchased a shop in Beaverton called Edge Coffee. In 2017 we entered our Espresso Nectar Blend into North America’s Golden Bean Competition and came away with a Silver Medal. In 2018 we entered again with a different coffee, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe and won three Bronze medals!
I am so thankful to all of my family, friends, employees and customers that have made this endeavor possible. And I am humbled by the generosity of the farmer's markets on Sauvie Island that continue to support us by carrying our coffees in their stores.